Climate change needs leadership

Open letter to Yukon MP Ryan Leef: Thank you for your letter of Jan. 5 in response to my Nov. 30 letter to Environment Minister Scott Kent.

Open letter to Yukon MP Ryan Leef:

Thank you for your letter of Jan. 5 in response to my Nov. 30 letter to Environment Minister Scott Kent.

I agree that you have “a responsibility to Canadians to ensure that our economy stays on track, that we are growing the number of jobs available to Canadians and that we be fiscally responsible.” And this must be done in balance for the sake of our future generations. Done without regard for the future, beyond your current political term, only prolongs current problems and worsens them over time, leaving our children to inherit a bigger problem than we have now.

You say the withdrawal from the Kyoto accord saves “an estimated $14 billion dollars” and “these funds could instead be used to fund projects that help mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions.” The word “could” causes serious concern as there was no plan in place to ensure these funds are used to “mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Shouldn’t there have been a plan in place before withdrawing from Kyoto? As a proactive MP, will you demand these funds are used as you suggest?

Government must provide incentives to mitigate greenhouse gases. That is the role of government – to put policies in place to make it happen. Government can only control industry and individuals by policy.

Now that we have missed the opportunity of the Kyoto accord, what will your government do to lead the country in this matter? I urge you to set your sights longer into the future, to be a true leader and to be proactive.

Clearly, Canadians have to accept that, to some degree, any initiative will economically hurt us today. But if we do not have alternatives to oil in place as climate change effects increase, it’s going to hurt all of us a lot more than the pain of our current economic difficulties.

For example, let’s look at the problem on a local level. If alternatives to oil are not economically available to individuals and oil reserves become more scarce, the economics of everyday living for northerners will be extremely difficult, if not impossible for many. This will result in a mass exodus from our colder climate, which will ultimately collapse the Yukon economy.

So let’s make the change now before our problems get worse. I ask you, as our leader, to take more initiatives like those noted in your letter and do more. Since the Yukon can’t resolve climate change problems on its own, do more on a national and global level.

Use your voice as an elected MP, your resources and access to the public service to develop a good alternative to the Kyoto accord. Develop an alternative that uses the “$14 billion dollars saved” to “fund projects that help mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions.”

With respect to the Mayo B hydroelectric project in 2011, I question why mines did not provide financial support for the project.

Since the mining industry creates a huge demand on all infrastructure, why do taxpayers foot the bill without the help of industry? Can the Yukon put policies in place to recover some of the capital cost from industry? For example, via properly negotiated power purchase agreements, industry can pay premium rates in lieu of a large capital outlay. This is a positive solution and strategy that would produce capital for other large infrastructure projects in the Yukon, such as a wind farm project.

I look forward to your response to these questions.

Leslie Leong